Album no. 198/1001
Familiar to anybody who watched Extras, this is Cat’s fourth album and first to appear on the list.
Cat (actual name Steven Demetre Georgiou) is probably the first artist on this list to have contracted Tuberculosis – a couple of years before this album, but nevertheless, a fun fact.
Have you listened to this album before?
NK: Yes I have. I didn’t realise it was his fourth though, he’s further through his career than I thought.
CL: I don’t know a lot of Cat Stevens, but I’m sorry to say that what I DO know… I don’t really like.
NK: I like quite a few tracks on this. The title track with it’s weirdly short structure and sudden jump in volume is pretty unusual for a pop album, ‘Wild World’ is a pretty catchy chorus, ‘Miles From Nowhere’ gets extra points for featuring in The Brothers Bloom, and I really like how weird ‘Longer Boats’ is. Where the hell did that one come from? Also hard to go past the sentimental favourite ‘Father And Son’ which seems like it should be incredibly earnest and overwrought but he has somehow pulled off.
CL: Ok so. As per my above comment, my previous exposure to Cat Stevens was just ‘Father And Son’. And I’ve always hated that song – I thought it was stupid.
“I LISTENED TO IT AGAIN AND IT MADE ME BLOODY CRY. I’m pretty emotionally unstable right now.”
NK: That song will have that effect at pretty much any time. I don’t know how he made it work.
CL: Also, ‘Tea For The Tillerman’ is just great for it’s inclusion in Extras. That gives it an automatic star right there.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
NK: Good question. The title track is pretty inexplicably linked to Extras for better or worse, but I listened to this album a lot over summer in (I think) 2011, and that’s the vibe that stays with me. Hot summer days in a shitty sharehouse with no air conditioning or insulation in the roof. I don’t exactly recommend it as an ideal listening experience, but that’s probably how I’ll always think of it.
CL: I didn’t listen to this in a shitty sharehouse, so I can’t say whether this really is the ultimate way to listen. I sort of have a vague recollection of hearing some of his songs when I was really little? I think you could add this album to your early morning collection – it’s not going to assault your ears first thing.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: This album is weird. It’s a pop album, but there are themes of time passing, getting older, generational change, transcendence and spirituality, which you do not normally find a lot of in pop music. It had some pretty catchy hooks on it which certainly helped, but I still think it’s pretty unusual. It reminds me a bit of the Van Morrison stuff we’ve had so far, where there’s a very original twist on folk/pop music, especially in the themes and lyrics.
CL: It tackles some heavy topics doesn’t it! I don’t know what you’re talking about in regards to Van Morrison – Cat Stevens may talk about some serious themes, but he doesn’t go on about a caravan for a whole song.
Will you be listening again?
NK: Yeah I reckon so.
CL: I’ll probably take a couple of the songs, but not the whole thing.
NK: I am surprised by how high a rating this gets, but there are no bad songs! I don’t know there enough really great songs, but everything here is above average.
Listen to Tea For The Tillerman on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.